Reasons Bookstores Refuse Self-Published Titles


If you have self-published your book, this means you have taken care of all the editing tasks: you have corrected the textual and layout errors and designed the cover (or hired professionals who will help you with these fundamental tasks).

In addition to this, you will also have to take care of distribution and marketing, which is the most daunting task for any self-publishing author looking beyond Amazon. As any editor will confirm, distribution is a key element in the book chain.

For self-publishing authors with no established brand in the book-publishing market, one of the few problems you'd have to get accustomed to (and learn how to manage) is that on many occasions, the bookstores, libraries and other distribution channels will reject your titles – and that's for obvious reasons.

Why self-published titles are rejected

Here are the reasons why accessing distribution is so difficult in traditional channels, if not directly impossible, for self-published authors.

·         It is common beliefs that the processes involved in auto-published books are less professional. If a self-published author met with a distributor, what would he offer him? A single novel by an unknown author, perhaps even edited in an amateur way with a bad cover and interior design. Distribution channels are not going to invest resources in a single novel that, in addition, has few guarantees of selling well.

·         Again, an auto-published author does not usually have a catalog. Not much less a forecast of titles for the next months or years. You can have ideas for future works, but nothing more: no covers, no synopsis, nothing!

How to Make them Distribute your Books

In spite of everything, you are willing to not give up without presenting battle. What can you do to try to find a good distribution for your books?


First of all, you need a catalog. If you already have several published works, you can try to play your trick.

If you only have a couple of novels, do not try it (self-publishing). As we have said, the distributor is not going to put his machinery into operation for a single title.

Author platform

In addition to your catalog, if you have a powerful writer platform and you can prove that your books are being sold (with figures and real data), the distributor may be more willing to receive and listen to your proposal.


The books that you present to the distributor must be professionally-produced. If you designed the cover yourself and the interior has not met the approval or done by a layout designer, the rejection will be total and assured!

You have to offer a good product. Otherwise, it is as if you were trying to convince the fruit seller to sell your bad apples. The fruit seller knows that he will not sell them and will not accept any dealings with you.


Prepare a dossier with the set of your works. The appearance of that dossier also counts: use good images for your covers, prepare well-presented synopses that show that you know how to sell your books to your ideal readers.

You can send this dossier by email and try to arrange an interview to which you will come well prepared and with sample copies.

Bottom Line

The reality is that, as self-published authors, you have to be aware that you are outsiders of the traditional publishing world and you have to learn to move on the margins of it. You have to look for your opportunities and open new paths.

We are sure that over time this situation will change and that the distributors will see the enormous potential of self-published writers.

But today your best asset is still in publishing good works, take care how you present them to the world and learn to do good marketing that puts you before the eyes of your ideal reader and ensures sales.